Thursday, January 13, 2011

Putnam Schools Get Grant For Teacher Salaries

The Putnam County school system will be getting a $3.1 million dollar grant as part of the federal "First To The Top" program. The Tennessee Department of Education announced that Putnam was one of only four school systems that will receive Innovation Acceleration Fund grants to assist them in designing and/or implementing alternative salary schedules. Building on initiatives in First to the Top to increase educator effectiveness through innovative compensation structures, officials say that newly adopted alternative salary schedules will reward teachers and principals for their ability to increase student achievement levels.

“Performance-based compensation is one strategy to recruit, retain, and reward our teachers,” Education Commissioner Bruce Opie said. “Tennessee is increasing our efforts to find and support the best possible talent for our schools, and we expect alternative compensation systems to encourage the same in return.”

First to the Top funds supply the competitive Innovation Acceleration Fund with a total of $12 million dollars to be dispersed over the course of a one-year planning period, along with three years of implementation. The discretionary grants are awarded based on the district’s teacher count and annual progress reports to ensure continuous funding throughout the grant.  Putnam County will use the funds to address such priorities as teacher recruitment and retention and long-term sustainability of new compensation systems after the term of the grant has expired. Compensation packages may be aligned with new career paths and include base salaries, as well as performance and retention bonuses and guaranteed professional benefits.